Editor’s Note: On August 21st, Toronto-based alternative rockers High will be releasing their EP entitled “The Okay” on all digital streaming platforms. Their single “Mayday”, which premiered exclusively on Kill The Music, sheds light on coping with depression and anxiety. In this mental health conversation with Madness To Creation, vocalist/guitarist Richard Howard of High discusses “The Okay” EP, the culture behind the band(they have members from France and Trinidad & Tobago), and how important it is to discuss mental health awareness. Fans can find High at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: You release The Okay EP on August 21st. Take us into that EP, and the writing and recording process.
Richard: Okie dokie. Writing-wise – Too Hot and Red have existed for a while, a couple years. We love playing those tunes and are one side of our style, so we included them on the EP. Spence and Ben weren’t around for the initial writing, but have really elevated the songs. Then Mayday and Oh My are more recent. Oh My was 100% a jam that turned into a song, while Mayday was a snippet that was fleshed out in the jam room. As for recording, thank God for timing. We laid it down in London, Ontario at the Sugar Shack with our buddy Kyle Ashbourne just before the COVID shutdown. It’s a sweet space and definitely inspired us to lay down some performances we’re really happy with.
Madness To Creation: What were some of the adjustments that you all have had to make on social media since the Covid-19 pandemic?
Richard: Oh man. Months from now, we’ll still won’t have a finished answer to that question. But we definitely took this time to become more active on social media, learn some new video editing skills, and move to a bigger room (we were practicing in basically a closet) to allow us to start streaming and filming ourselves (we’ll start dropping stuff in a couple weeks). We’re just trying to feel a fraction of that connection from shows. Let us know how we do!
Madness To Creation: You have members from France, Trinidad & Tobago and Canada, how have cultures influenced your music?
Richard: Ben (France) is class af. Just kidding, he’s a miscreant like the rest of us. I’d have to say my (Rich) Trinidadian culture may have had the most obvious influence on the sound. Those Caribbean sounds are part of my DNA, and as the main songwriter up until now, they sneak in there quite a bit. All of us having lived in Canada for a while, we’ve also been influenced by alternative that non-Canadians may not have heard – and love to drop some sweet Canadian Rock-Cover Content.
Madness To Creation: 3 biggest reasons why you got into music.
Richard: Free booze, free weed, free love. Nah, this ain’t Almost Famous. I’d say being creative people and the need to get that creativity out, growing up in the 90’s and being blown away by this amazing ‘anything goes’ alternative music made by super-interesting-seeming people, and the realizations that we had a different way of looking at, hearing, and creating things than most people.
Madness To Creation: Let’s talk about the single “Mayday”, what message are you portraying in that song?
Richard: Whether depression, anxiety or other, mental illness can absolutely shape an afflicted person’s entire life. It sure did mine. And that’s hard to explain. Even if you have the words to explain, the nature of the disease makes you not want to do the thing that helps the most: talk about it. Mayday just talks about the tumultuous, constant storm and sometimes despair that comes with the territory. It’s not a complaint, nor is it an attempt at a solution. It’s an attempt to talk about it and hopefully have other people in similar situations feel like someone else out there understands and they’re not alone.
Madness To Creation: How have you guys been coping with the pandemic, and what is your response to the unrest that’s going on in America right now?
Richard: As it has been for everyone, it’s been challenging. During hard quarantine, it was extremely difficult to cope with the isolation. As difficult as it may be, reaching out using tech like Zoom, FaceTime etc. is something I’d recommend to anyone. It helps. I think we all tried to go a little deeper inside personally and discover new parts of our musical selves (sorry if that sounds douchey but it’s true) to stay sane.
It’s good that the pretense that there isn’t a massive problem of systemic racism has been challenged like it never has before. And it’s great that many people are seeking to educate themselves about it. There’s a lot of work to be done still. And it’s not just in America. So we’re working on some ways we hope to help here in Canada – with a focus on the intersection of mental health and support of minority communities.
Madness To Creation: What helps get you through the struggles in life and what makes you happy?
Richard: Music and music. Myself personally…taking things from madness to creation, to borrow a phrase.
Madness To Creation: Plans when the pandemic is over? Has live music returned to Canada?
Richard: Not even close! Conventional live music won’t return for the foreseeable future. When it does, you can bet we’ll play anywhere from a barn to a bus station. In the meanwhile, we’ll make sure our 2021 bus station tour will be hot shit with one hella-tight band.
Madness To Creation: What else would you like to add in regards to High?
Richard: I was a toaster (dancehall style singing) in a reggae-rock band for years. I always wanted to do something more rock-based but never felt I could – of course the good old Noonday demon depression assured me I wasn’t talented enough and never would be. High was created to prove those voices wrong. We want to thank everybody who supports us, because they’re supporting a victory in that ongoing battle.
Madness To Creation: Thank you very much for your time to interview with me for Madness To Creation!
Richard: Thanks a million for having us – and for creating such an incredible resource. We all know that mental health issues have a high incidence amongst creative individuals. So sites and organizations like yours are beautiful. Thank you so much for that!
And there you have it! Go pick up “The Okay” on your favorite digital streaming platform on August 21st. This band rocks and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for High!